4 Minute Mile (2014)
Editor’s Notes: 4 Minute Mile is now playing in limited release.
Common is the movie that lazily employs familiar, well-tread cliches, and refreshing is the one that embraces them with open arms while bringing something new to the table. Charles-Olivier Michaud’s 4 Minute Mile exists between these two approaches to filmmaking. It is a film as inspired as its title, featuring 86 minutes of lifeless, borderline watchable story that culminates in in a ten-minute well-executed albiet predictable finale. At the end of the day, it is a harmless film, but one leaves the film wishing it could have been so much more.
At the end of the day, it is a harmless film, but one leaves the film wishing it could have been so much more.
Kelly Blatz stars as Drew Jacobs, who has literally running from his problems since he came home to see his dad passed out dead on their floor. The lifeless and painfully blatant metaphors continue as we flash forward to Drew’s late teens, where he still continues to run, but has trouble with authority figures. He’s stuck at home with his brother Wes (Cam Gigandet), who is involved in a life of crime. For some unexplained reason, Drew puts up with this and just lets it happen. He’s getting a lot of heat from local bad guy Eli (Rhys Coiro in the film’s most underwritten role). Also in play is Kim Basinger as Drew’s mom, who shows up occasionally to remind us that her family has gone through some tough stuff. Analeigh Tipton, so good in other films like Crazy, Stupid, Love and Warm Bodies, is cast in the role of the girlfriend simply because the script requires its protagonist to have one.
Ultimately, 4 Minute Mile is a picture that feels like it went into production immediately after completing the first draft.
Enter aged, alcoholic track coach Coleman (Richard Jenkins). He is the film’s Mr. Miyagi, showing up to take the young troubled child with exciting talent to the big leagues through unorthodox methods of training. The film even jokes about the identical nature of the two characters, one of the few moments where the film jumps to life by embracing its cliches instead of just throwing out another one and hoping it sticks. Jenkins is perhaps the only three-dimensional character in the film, his performance providing a great anchor to film otherwise filled with so much dead air. The scenes between Jenkins and Blatz are familiar but in a way that is not frustrating like so much else in the film. But even they can’t keep the film afloat.
Ultimately, 4 Minute Mile is a picture that feels like it went into production immediately after completing the first draft. There’s little room for directorial brilliance, and Jean-Francois Lord’s sterile cinematography robs the film of the grittiness that made other underdog movies like Rocky and Million Dollar Baby. The film is so underwritten that it is impossible to invest in any of the characters or the journey they go through or feel any sense of danger of conflict. The film is packed to the breaking point with great actors, from the greats to exciting new talent. However, they are burdened with a script that does little to showcase their talents. As great as the film’s last ten minutes are, they feel like they belong in a better movie. Regardless, the film’s finale almost makes the stuff leading up to it worth suffering through. Almost.
4 Minute Mile is a film as inspired as its title, featuring 86 minutes of lifeless, borderline watchable story that culminates in in a ten-minute well-executed albiet predictable finale.